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Stowmarket Christmas Tree Festival off to a magical start

PUBLISHED: 18:53 05 December 2016 | UPDATED: 18:53 05 December 2016

Stowmarket Christmas Tree Festival. St Peter and St Mary’s Church. Pictured is Rev Michael Eden.

Stowmarket Christmas Tree Festival. St Peter and St Mary’s Church. Pictured is Rev Michael Eden.

A Christmas tree made from marshmallow and gingerbread is one of more than 400 unusual festive firs drawing in huge crowds to a popular annual Suffolk festival.

Stowmarket Christmas Tree Festival. The Mix. Pictured is Selina Taylor. Stowmarket Christmas Tree Festival. The Mix. Pictured is Selina Taylor.

Since it opened just under a fortnight ago, the Stowmarket Christmas Tree Festival has already attracted hundreds of visitors from local schools, clubs and organisations – as well as many from further afield.

Last year the event pulled in around 30,000 people, making it among the biggest of its kind in the country.

Organisers are hoping the heartwarming displays in the parish church, The Mix and Abbots Hall at the Museum of East Anglian Life will attract record numbers this year.

Anyone expecting to see traditional trees with the usual red, gold and green trimmings will not be disappointed, but event coordinator Judy Eden said festival-goers should also expect some quirky surprises.

Stowmarket Christmas Tree Festival. St Peter and St Mary’s Church. Stowmarket Christmas Tree Festival. St Peter and St Mary’s Church.

One of the exhibits for example, entered by local firm Stowhealth, has been created from rubber gloves.

Mrs Eden said organisations, schools, businesses and charities in the Stowmarket area had been urged to think outside the box when decorating their trees this year.

“We certainly haven’t been disappointed – people have really let their imaginations run wild,” she said.

“It gives them a chance to interpret the Christmas story in an imaginative way.

Stowmarket Christmas Tree Festival. St Peter and St Mary’s Church. Stowmarket Christmas Tree Festival. St Peter and St Mary’s Church.

“In the past, exhibits have included trees made from Lego bricks and buttons, and they have been decorated with everything from icing sugar angels to specimen bottle lanterns hanging from the branches.

“All of the trees are unique and have special meaning to the groups that made them. Most have a story to tell which makes it really interesting for the visitors.

“We have such great support from local people and that’s why we all say it’s a community event, for the community, by the community.”

Margaret Watson, from Bury St Edmunds, said it was “by far the best” Christmas tree festival she had attended.

Stowmarket Christmas Tree Festival. St Peter and St Mary’s Church. Pictured is Lesley Mayes. Stowmarket Christmas Tree Festival. St Peter and St Mary’s Church. Pictured is Lesley Mayes.

“They have managed to make the church look really warm and inviting and it has a lovely atmosphere.

“I have visited every year since it started, but I think this is the best yet. There’s something really magical about it this year. For the size of the town, I think they do brilliantly.”

Anyone hoping to soak up the magical atmosphere can do so until New Year’s Day. The festival closes on January 2.

For more details about the festival, visit the website

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